Saluda Train Tales to feature guest speaker Ray Rapp
Published 11:51 am Monday, May 8, 2023
The Saluda Historic Depot and Museum will present Saluda Train Tales on Friday, May 19, featuring guest speaker Ray Rapp.
Rapp will discuss will be discussing the NC Department of Transportation’s recently completed feasibility study for the resumption of passenger rail service between Salisbury and Asheville in “Back On Track: The Return of Passenger Trains To Western North Carolina.”
AMTRAK has included Asheville in its future planning and has targeted 2035 for the launching of this service. The NCDOT Rail Division’s exciting new study proposes 3 roundtrips per day along the 139-mile line with four stops at Statesville, Hickory, Morganton and Marion and a running time of 3 hours and 25 minutes.
The study projects 100,000 local trips and well over 150,000 “offline connections” annually. The initial capital cost is $665 million and 80% of the funding would be covered under the Biden Administration’s $80 Billion provided to AMTRAK to improve and expand its services.
At the end of March 2023, NCDOT’s Rail Division submitted its application to the FRA’s Corridor Identification Program for 13 such lines in the state and the Asheville-Salisbury Corridor is ranked among its highest recommendations!
Restoration of passenger rail to Asheville has never been closer and Rapp is excited to share the prospects and possible hurdles to bringing back passenger service to the mountains after a nearly 50-year hiatus.
Ray Rapp is co-chair of the Western North Carolina Rail Corridor Committee and has lectured extensively on regional rail history. As early as his undergraduate career, Rapp was fascinated by the way railroads united the country after the Civil War by linking east, west, north and south.
“In ten short years after the arrival of the railroad in 1880, Asheville more than doubled its population and modernity transformed the mountains,” he says. “Especially fascinating to me was the challenge of building railroads up the Blue Ridge escarpment to the isolated mountain communities.”
This was done by laying looping tracks up the mountain and creating the steepest standard gauge mainline grade in the US.
Submitted by Nita H. High